CJTF-HOA assesses BNDF hospitals, looks for ways to help
BUJUMBURA, Burundi – A 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion (443rd CA BN) team from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, engaged with Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF) medical professionals during an assessment of hospitals in Bujumbura, Burundi, from March 17-21, 2014.
The 443rd CA BN, part of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, conducted assessments to find out if there was interest in sharing of skills or information between civil affairs and hospital staff. The staff treats BNDF wounded warriors, who have been injured in Somalia during African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operations.
The team was impressed with the capabilities of the hospitals they visited said Maj. (Dr.) Thomas Webster, 443rd CA BN functional specialty team officer in charge (OIC).
Although not equipped with the latest technology, the staff makes use of what they have. “They do a lot with very little,” Webster said.
During their visit, the team toured and assessed all areas of the hospital to include departments such as radiology, intensive care unit, physical therapy, emergency room, and the surgery suite. They found some areas the hospital staff would like input on.
“I think it’s a unique mission. I think it’s very challenging, yet also rewarding, to be able to be out here in a country like Burundi,” said Capt. Christopher Carbone, 443rd CA BN detachment OIC. “To be able to work with their military and their civilian medical providers … trying to enhance their capabilities and capacity to take care of the soldiers they’re preparing to send into battle has truly been a rewarding experience.”
The team also met with some of the BNDF wounded warriors who had been injured during AMISOM missions. This was especially near and dear to Carbone, who is a wounded warrior himself. Carbone was injured by an improvised explosive device detonation during a 2005 tour in Iraq and suffered a traumatic brain injury in an explosion during a 2011 tour in Afghanistan.
“For me to be able to speak to the BNDF wounded warriors was very personal and special,” Carbone said. “I myself was wounded in 2005 and 2011, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan. So to me, (to meet) other men who have been wounded in battle, it’s very personal. It was a great experience to be able to talk with them, joke with them, shake their hands and share my own story with them as well as hear their story too.”
Carbone said after his teams’ visit, they hope to brainstorm some ways in which they can help enhance care for BNDF wounded warriors coming back from Somalia and looks forward to working with them in the future.